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Book of the Day: Geert Lovink’s Networks Without a Cause

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
4th April 2012


* Book: Networks Without a Cause, A Critique of Social Media. by Geert Lovink. Polity Press, 2012

Introduction:

“With the vast majority of Facebook users caught in a frenzy of friending’, ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’, at what point do we pause to grasp the consequences of our info-saturated lives? What compels us to engage so diligently with social networking systems? Networks Without a Cause examines our collective obsession with identity and self-management coupled with the fragmentation and information overload endemic to contemporary online culture.

With a dearth of theory on the social and cultural ramifications of hugely popular online services, Lovink provides a path- breaking critical analysis of our over-hyped, networked world with case studies on search engines, online video, blogging, digital radio, media activism and the WikiLeaks saga. This book offers a powerful message to media practitioners and theorists: let us collectively unleash our critical capacities to influence technology design and workspaces, otherwise we will disappear into the cloud. Probing but never pessimistic, Lovink draws from his long history in media research to offer a critique of the political structures and conceptual powers embedded in the technologies that shape our daily lives.”

Geert Lovink said in an interview about this new book:

Is this book a continuation of your critical internet studies? What is the main focus?

GL: I am never quite sure if my books are too general or too specific. I am not ready to synthesize my work into a General Network Theory. I see myself more as a chroniqueur who is telling stories and trying to influence the overall direction of net culture with critical concepts and research network initiatives. Based in Europe, working in the academic-cultural field my influence as an intellectual is modest, but still exciting. In this fourth part I continue my investigations into blogging, reflect on the status of ‘net criticism’, discuss the neurological turn in net criticism, develop a theory of comment cultures and report on the ambiguous status of new media education within arts and humanities. Are new media just a fad or are they here stay? If so, then why it is so hard to build up an autonomous discipline in terms of academic research and education?”

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